Updated 31 January 2014

How to become a freeloader

The latest rates hike has tempted Susan Erasmus to try out the lifestyle of a freeloader. It works for so many other people, after all.


The latest rates hike has tempted Susan Erasmus to try out the lifestyle of a freeloader. It works for so many other people, after all.

Many people don’t work. Some have good reasons (bringing up kids, being ill, being between jobs, going through a family crisis), but many don’t. Work sounds, well, like hard work.

Free spirits don't pay for anything

Many people do not carry the admin load for their own lives, and certainly don’t foot the bill for the financial obligations they have. They are often called free spirits – I suspect it’s because they usually don’t pay for anything themselves. I think I have suddenly also become tired of being responsible. Tired of working hard, tired of keeping a household going, tired of trying to make a budget balance – just tired.

I think it’s time I joined the brigade of the freeloaders in La-la land. One more won’t make a difference, will it? I am sure I can blend in with the crowds.

I suspect I might be becoming the friend who always ‘forgets’ her wallet at home.

Emotional blackmail

I have taken a careful look at my circle of family and friends, and  have come to the conclusion that they are able, between them, to support me. I might encounter some initial resistance, especially if any of them have read this column, but sheer persistence and emotional blackmail should win the day. And of course, shamelessness on my part.

It’s one thing getting people to hand over cash, but quite another to move in with them – albeit for a limited period of time. I reckon about a month at a time is more or less how far I can push it. Just think, free everything, from electricity to food. All I need to do is make a token gesture every now and then (R1000 a month should do it all in all), cook the odd supper, do a few dishes and not get underfoot. The thing about the token gesture is that I must give just enough that people feel guilty to ask me to leave.

O, woe is me!

And then, of course, there should be an ongoing pretense that I am looking for work. This can be stretched out over months.  It is also necessary for me to dwell every now and then on how badly life has treated me, how depressed I feel, how limited my funds are and so forth. I will find a way to turn every conversation in this direction. Guilt and manipulation have worked for centuries for others, now it’s my turn.

Just think – no more rates bills, no more worries about electricity prices, water bills, tax returns, accounts, car maintenance, bond repayments. The list is endless. Let’s face it, administering a life is a tedious, exhausting and expensive operation. I have done it for 30 years now, so maybe it’s time to take a break. It doesn’t surprise me that it gets too much for some people. But then, life on the streets comes with its own set of unique challenges and deprivations and I’m certainly not ready for those. I like my creature comforts – I am just tired of footing the bill for them myself.

So in a nutshell, I don’t expect percale duvets, but will make do with polycotton. Beggars can’t be choosers.

I am tired of the 9 – 5 slog, but I don’t have any problem living off someone else who is prepared to do it. Freeloading works for so many others. The options are many: freeloading off the state, freeloading off your friends, freeloading off family. I think it’s high time it was my turn.

Here’s what needs to be done:

Cultivate a sense of entitlement. In order to pull off a stunt such as this one, I need to be confident that I deserve the help of others. If you have a personality disorder of some kind, you can push it even further and imagine that you’re doing them a favour on some level.

Kill my conscience. This is a big one. I have always paddled my own canoe. With it comes a certain freedom, but maybe it’s overrated. It’s time to find out.

Become thick-skinned. I must learn to become impervious to hints, suggestions, and signs of other people’s irritation.

Plan a year in advance. Choose twelve victims, and plan to stay with each of them for a month. They won’t kick you out if they know you will be leaving of your own accord a few weeks later. By the end of the year you could possible start again from the beginning.

(Susan Erasmus is currently gainfully employed, is of fixed address, and has not quite yet embarked on the life of a freeloader. But it is tempting. This might be the time to find a very definite use for your spare room, before she phones.)


Susan Erasmus is a freelance writer for Health24.




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